Letter to President Bush on Funding for Abstinence-Only

7, 2002

George W. Bush

The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President

The undersigned
organizations, committed to responsible sexuality education
for young people that includes age-appropriate, medically
accurate information about both abstinence and contraception,
urge you to reconsider increasing funding for unproven abstinence-only-until-marriage

continues to show that a more comprehensive approach to sexuality
education, which teaches both abstinence and contraception,
is most effective for young people. Those who receive this
kind of education are more likely to initiate sexual activity
later in life and use protection correctly and consistently
when they do become sexually active. Evaluations of comprehensive
sexuality education programs found that these programs delay
the onset of sexual activity, reduce the frequency of sexual
activity, reduce the number of sexual partners, and increase
condom and contraceptive use. Importantly, the evidence shows
that these programs do not encourage teens to become sexually
active. In short, responsible sexuality education programs

In contrast,
there is little scientific evidence that abstinence-only-until-marriage
programs that exclude information about contraception, except
failure rates, are effective. Even your own Secretary of Health
and Human Services, Tommy Thompson, expressed concerns about
the ‘paucity of evidence of [the] effectiveness’ of these

and research should be the paramount considerations when evaluating
public health interventions. Protecting the lives of America’s
young people, especially in the era of AIDS, should dictate
that we do the best we can based on what the experts tell
us works.

The most
trusted medical and scientific institutions in our nation,
such as the American Medical Association, the American Academy
of Pediatrics, the Society for Adolescent Medicine, the Institute
of Medicine, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists,
the American Nurses Association and the American Public Health
Association, all recommend sexuality education that includes
age-appropriate and medically accurate information about abstinence
and contraception.

In fact,
the Institute of Medicine recommends that “Congress, as well
as other federal, state, and local policymakers, eliminate
the requirements that public funds be used for abstinence-only
education, and that states and local school districts implement
and continue to support age-appropriate comprehensive sex

And it
is not just the science that supports these programs. Parents
overwhelmingly support teaching teens about all aspects of
sexuality education, including abstinence and birth control.
According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy,
neither parents, by 70.6 percent, nor teens, by 74.7 percent,
believe that discussing abstinence and contraception sends
a mixed message to young people. They clearly understand that
sexuality education is not an either/or proposition, but a
successful education program that includes both.

increases to these unproven abstinence-only-until-marriage
programs fly in the face of both scientific evidence and the
desires of parents. Congress has already allocated over a
half billion in federal and state matching dollars since the
fall of 1996 to fund unproven abstinence-only-until-marriage
programs that exclude accurate information about condoms and
contraceptives for the prevention of unintended pregnancy,
HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

We urge
you to follow the science, protect the health of America’s
teens and reconsider your funding request.


Pregnancy Prevention, Inc.
Advocates for Youth
Africa Action
AIDS Action
AIDS Treatment Data Network
Alliance for Young Families
American Association for Health Education
American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and
American Association of University Women
College of Nurse-Midwives
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
American Foundation for AIDS Research
American Public Health Association
American Psychiatric Association
American Psychological Association
American Social Health Association
American Society of Reproductive Medicine
Association of Reproductive Health Professionals
California Family Health Council
Catholics for a Free Choice
Center for Reproductive Law and Policy
Center for Women’s Policy Studies
Choice USA
CUSP – Comprehensive U.S. Sustainable Population
Connecticut National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action
Family Planning Advocates of New York State
Family Planning Association of Maine
Feminist Majority
Florida Federation of Business and Professional Women
Gay Men’s Health Crisis
Girls Incorporated
Health Initiatives for Youth
Human Rights Campaign
Lincoln Chapter of the National Organization for Women
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
Minnesota Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy, Prevention
and Parenting
Mothers’ Voices
Nashville CARES
National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League
National Abortion Federation
National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors
National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health
National Association of People with AIDS
National Association of School Psychologists
National Center for Health Education
National Coalition Against Censorship
National Council of Jewish Women
National Education Association
National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
National Minority AIDS Council
National Native American AIDS Prevention Center
National Organization for Women
National Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy, Parenting,
and Prevention
National Partnership for Women and Families
National Women’s Health Network
National Women’s Law Center
National Youth Advocacy Coalition
Negative Population Growth
NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund
People For the American Way
Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Planned Parenthood of Central Washington
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing
for A Cure
Sierra Club Ohio Chapter Population-Environment Committee
Society for Public Health Education
Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality
Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United
Texas School Health Association
The African American AIDS Policy & Training Institute
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
Voters for Choice Action Fund
Zero Population Growth